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Help please - 1/4" tape transfer

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12 minutes ago, 4000 said:

I also have a tape somewhere that could do with copying.

Possibly more problematic, I also have a couple (?) of Betamax tapes that some old studio sessions (late ‘80s) were mixed down onto, that being the preferred method of the (local) studio at the time. I have no idea whether they’re playable or suitable for copying to digital, but would love to find out. Anyone know anywhere that might be able to copy these? Or are they likely to be dead in the water?

Give Simon a buzz at Big Noise Studio. I’ll be surprised if he can’t help. Tell him I recommended him.

https://www.bignoisestudios.co.uk

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27 minutes ago, 4000 said:

I also have a tape somewhere that could do with copying.

Possibly more problematic, I also have a couple (?) of Betamax tapes that some old studio sessions (late ‘80s) were mixed down onto, that being the preferred method of the (local) studio at the time. I have no idea whether they’re playable or suitable for copying to digital, but would love to find out. Anyone know anywhere that might be able to copy these? Or are they likely to be dead in the water?

Before DAT Sony had a proprietary stereo digital tape recording system that used Betamax tapes. I suspect it will have been recorded using one of these. I have some recordings that were mixed onto this format from a session done in 1986. Unless you have all the technical details written on the tape or box, when you get them transferred makes sure that you get copies with the pre-empaphis both on and off so you can use the version that sounds the best.

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28 minutes ago, taunton-hobbit said:

I'm guessing these are not a 'video' session, so I would have thought that any facility

with a betamax player could simply take the sound output and convert to digital?

😎

They were the studio’s preferred method of keeping final studio mixes for customers. The problem is I’ve been unable to find anyone with suitable machines. The studio still has theirs but they no longer work, or so they told me. 

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2 minutes ago, BigRedX said:

Before DAT Sony had a proprietary stereo digital tape recording system that used Betamax tapes. I suspect it will have been recorded using one of these. I have some recordings that were mixed onto this format from a session done in 1986. Unless you have all the technical details written on the tape or box, when you get them transferred makes sure that you get copies with the pre-empaphis both on and off so you can use the version that sounds the best.

Could well have been, I honestly can’t remember. I think these were from ‘88 and ‘89/‘90.

Thanks for the advice; I don’t think anything was written on them but I’ll have to dig them out. 

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4 minutes ago, 4000 said:

Could well have been, I honestly can’t remember. I think these were from ‘88 and ‘89/‘90.

Thanks for the advice; I don’t think anything was written on them but I’ll have to dig them out. 

Just had a quick look on-line to see if anything jogged my memory further, and I think what you are looking for is the Sony PCM-F1 system. It's in two parts - the AD/DA convertor which is used in conjunction with a Sony Betamax tape recorder with the appropriate inputs.

Ideally the technical spec of the recording should be written on the tape casing or box labels so that it can be played back properly on another system in the same way that stereo analogue reel-to-reel tapes would have the playback speed and test tone information on them.

HTH

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1 hour ago, 4000 said:

I also have a tape somewhere that could do with copying.

Possibly more problematic, I also have a couple (?) of Betamax tapes that some old studio sessions (late ‘80s) were mixed down onto, that being the preferred method of the (local) studio at the time. I have no idea whether they’re playable or suitable for copying to digital, but would love to find out. Anyone know anywhere that might be able to copy these? Or are they likely to be dead in the water?

Betamax was quite a popular format for audio and lasted longer than you might imagine. There is a good chance mastering studios will still have a way of playing these.

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1 hour ago, taunton-hobbit said:

I'm guessing these are not a 'video' session, so I would have thought that any facility

with a betamax player could simply take the sound output and convert to digital?

😎

As BigRedX and others have said, IIRC it used the Betamax U-matic loading/head set up but I believe it used what would normally be the video heads to record the audio to give better recording quality.

As far as I remember the Betamax video tapes used a standard stereo type head on one edge of the tape to record a continuous length of audio recording (just like a cassette) whereas the video head recorded diagonal stripes of video information alongside it via the large spinning drum. These stripes are what they used for the systems the previous poster was talking about, and what was later minimised into DAT and ADAT.

I'm probably wrong -- I'm trying to remember stuff I investigated for a project at University about 20 years ago!.

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1 hour ago, Huge Hands said:

As BigRedX and others have said, IIRC it used the Betamax U-matic loading/head set up but I believe it used what would normally be the video heads to record the audio to give better recording quality.

As far as I remember the Betamax video tapes used a standard stereo type head on one edge of the tape to record a continuous length of audio recording (just like a cassette) whereas the video head recorded diagonal stripes of video information alongside it via the large spinning drum. These stripes are what they used for the systems the previous poster was talking about, and what was later minimised into DAT and ADAT.

I'm probably wrong -- I'm trying to remember stuff I investigated for a project at University about 20 years ago!.

No. From I found out while trying to recall the system used you are spot on. Only the video part of the record and playback mechanism had the required bandwidth to transfer the digital audio to and from the tape. However I also found out that depending on the exact model of AD/DA converters used the recording may only be 14bit.

Edited by BigRedX

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All interesting stuff guys. We were anything but recording-gear heads at the time, and like most things in life, kind of took it for granted that nothing would change so drastically that it would become an issue. Oh how wrong we were. 😂

I half expect finding the Betamax players may be a bigger problem than the state of the tape. 
 

 

 

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21 minutes ago, 4000 said:

All interesting stuff guys. We were anything but recording-gear heads at the time, and like most things in life, kind of took it for granted that nothing would change so drastically that it would become an issue. Oh how wrong we were. 😂

I half expect finding the Betamax players may be a bigger problem than the state of the tape. 

There are plenty of companies offering video transfer from Betamax. It might be harder to find someone with the correct front end device to do the AD/DA conversion.

Edit: The company listed above offer PCM F1 conversion, which is probably what you need.

Edited by BigRedX
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12 hours ago, 4000 said:

I half expect finding the Betamax players may be a bigger problem than the state of the tape. 

When I was doing my University project back around '97 I asked my dad if he could find an old Betamax machine and tapes as he was (and still is) an absolute car boot sale addict.

Even then it was hard to get them but he came good, and there were a good number of tapes for me to experiment with.  I plugged up the machine, tried the tapes, and realised he had purchased someone's entire pornography collection....

(When I say experiment, I meant I wiped the tapes as quick as I could......honest guv......)

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On 16/09/2020 at 14:18, 4000 said:

Cheers, much appreciated!

I picked up my tape this afternoon and I asked Simon about yours. He can't do the Betamax tapes, but he knows somewhere who can. 

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As promised, here is one of the tracks from my tape transfer. I've listened back to it a couple of times and it's cringeworthy for several reasons, but I was only a teenager when we wrote this stuff, so it is what it is.

I'm going to have a go at re-recording this one with a few of my current band members and see what we can do with it.

 

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